L’affaire Belicheat

Peter King argues that the NFL’s penalty should have included a suspension:

Goodell slapped Belichick hard, but not hard enough. A suspension should have accompanied the loss of the top draft choice.

I think the penalty is appropriate, but a bit soft in light of how Wade Wilson was suspended for five games for his much more defensible transgression. Of course, Goodell is primarily concerned with dissuading future behavior, and HGH is more likely to be an ongoing problem than illicit filming. Coaches aren’t going to be willing to risk losing a first-round draft pick in order to pick up defensive signals in the future.

I would have preferred to see Belicheck also suspended for four games and for the team’s fine to come off its salary cap as well. Of course, if more wrongdoing is uncovered, Goodell will have an excuse to jack up the penalty; I don’t think the initial response to the punishment expresses the sense of satisfaction that justice has been done for which he was surely hoping. If New England didn’t have two first-round picks, it might have been perceived as appropriate, but since they do, the whole thing feels somewhat tailored and superficial.

However, as PFT has already pointed out, this affair is likely to move the Competition Committee towards allowing radio helmets for defensive captains. I don’t like it, but I don’t have a huge problem with it either ; it’s clear that the league is increasingly moving towards on-field play calls anyhow, thanks to Peyton Manning.

In any event, the most painful punishment isn’t one that the NFL could dictate anyhow. It’s the fact that Belicheck will henceforth be known as “Belicheat”. That’s a pain that’s not only going to sting, but linger and fester, for Belicheat himself as well as the Patriots’ fan base.